Climate Migration: The State of Play on National, International, and Local Response Frameworks

Mar 25, 2022 | by
  • Description

According to government data, 2021 was a year of climate disasters: The U.S. experienced 20 separate billion-dollar disasters, putting the year in second behind 2020, which had a record 22 separate billion-dollar events. The number and cost of weather and climate disasters are increasing across the world, with a dire climate report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday, February 28, warning that climate change, and climate disasters, will "redistribute populations on a planetary scale."

Despite the increased attention being paid to the phenomenon of climate migration, substantive recommendations and solutions to this growing occurrence are few and far between at the local, national, and international levels. The lack of a dedicated international mechanism for climate migrants as well as local and national solutions has forced many to seek protections under existing international legal mechanisms, such as refugee and asylum laws, which were not designed for this new type of migration. Many of the international initiatives addressing migration more generally are non-binding, meaning that they provide a framework for signatory countries to follow, but do not compel those signatory countries to take specific actions, leaving an international patchwork of responses to a growing global phenomenon.